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As we take this issue to press, a group of twenty senior
level media executives are returning home from their
travels on the late May West Coast Innovation Mission
hosted by the Local Media Association Foundation. This
third study tour in as many years was stunning for the
breadth and multi-industry scope of the visits and intel-
ligence it yielded for the group, and soon the industry.
(See the sidebar for details about the forthcoming report.)
At the end of only the second of this six day expedition,
participant Eric Bright, Vice President of E-Commerce,
Deseret Digital Media commented “If I returned home
today, the trip would have been unbelievably well worth
LMA President Nancy Lane wasted no time in spreading
the wealth of information gleaned from the I.M. stops
and began the process of sharing with fact filled posts on
LMA’s website. In a sign of the fast paced times that we live
in, I.M. participants also tweeted and broadcast videos
throughout the trip. Follow the tweets at #IMwest and
among others, check out Emily Walsh, Associate Publisher/
Multimedia, The Observer Group (FL) interviewing Kristi
Waite, Digital Marketing Manager at acclaimed innovator
Fisher Communication, on the first three steps Waite
suggests local media companies take as they develop
their social media strategies.
The study tour was expansive, literally and figuratively,
and whisked the participants down the West Coast of the
United States. Starting in Seattle, with a sojourn into British
Columbia for meetings with Black Press, and concluding
in southern California, the group hopped planes and
rode buses to engage with innovators representing seven
companies. The tour group was intentionally limited to
a small number of slots so that participants could gain
the benefits derived from up close interaction with one
another and the top minds with which they met.
A sampling of the intelligence gained:
From the Sunday evening session, on key takeaways
from the recent World Association of Newspapers-
IFRA study tour and World Advertising Conference.
Presented by LMA president Nancy Lane and WAN-
IFRA Executive Director, Publishing and Advertising,
Creative online ad formats that are generating buzz
include takeovers, pencil expanders and large format
ads. Examples: ksl.com ($22,000/day from takeovers),
signonsandiego.com ($36 CPM) and ljworld.com
(unique format delivering click through rates close
Some are exploring the concept of augmented reality.
One vendor name that was mentioned was Arasma.
From the meetings at Fisher Communications in
Fisher executives shared some research including
“75% of people that get news online, get it via social
Their referral traffic from Facebook is up 70% this
Monetizing for advertisers: they offer three packages
that range in price from $3,000 - $10,000. They range
from basic Facebook page set up to more elaborate
packages. Advertiser workshops are proving to be
Session two at Fisher Communications focused on
content strategies. Their mantra is “original, unique,
They are agnostic and will put their content anywhere
(like Pinterest, for example)
They suggest adding photos to your Facebook postings;
will result in more shares, likes and views.
Another mantra that they preach: “the biggest driver of
new audience is the audience that we already have”.
They credit real time analytics from Google for helping
with the culture change in the newsroom (showing
which stories are getting the most views).
From the meetings at Black Press in Victoria, British
They purchased a site a few years ago, Usedeverywhere.
ca, that now boasts 1.3 million UV’s per month and
rivals Kijiji and Craigslist. It is a free classified site that
makes money via upsells, banners, sponsorships and
affiliate programs. Visit www.usedvictoria.ca for an
example. All of the sites are localized by town. This is
a very successful digital product for them.
Events are huge for them, especially those focused on
community leaders. A new one, “100 most influential
people” is also driving a lot of revenue.
They instituted pay walls (they don’t like that term
- they call them e-subscriptions) for all of their paid
products and in many cases the print circulation also
increased as a result. They do NOT use the metered
pay wall approach.
From the meetings with the folks from YP.com, formerly
AT&T Interactive, in San Francisco, Calif.:
m executives are very focused on partnership
opportunities. They have recently signed reseller agree-
ments with a number of other directory publishers and
would also like to partner with local newspapers.
YP mobile display network – fastest growing mobile
local ad network. This is very new and separate from
the YP.com partnership. They are looking for partner-
ships in this space and several others as well.
I.M. tour participant Eric Bright shared some personal
thoughts after this day’s discussion on partnerships.
“There are certainly gains to be made by partnering with
big media and pure plays, but putting all of our eggs in
those baskets doesn’t ensure long term viability and
growth for any of our businesses,” says Bright. “We can
do better – partner where prudent, but look for solutions
that are right sized for our markets.”
From the meetings with Google, in Mountain View, Calif.:
They hire people that are good at many things and
want people that are comfortable with a fast work
environment. Sense of speed is very important.
The hiring process is integral to their culture and is
designed to remove subjectivity. The hiring process is
the same for every single position, low, mid and high-
level, and includes interviews by committee.
They look for people that communicate well; work
well with others; are humble.
Ideas come from everywhere – it doesn’t matter what
your position is. There are white boards all over the
company to facilitate the brainstorming and thinking/
They live by the phrase: “Don’t ask for permission;
ask for forgiveness.”
20% time: if you have an idea that is good for Google
you should be able to work on that idea up to 20%
of your time. Gmail was a 20% project.
G to G program allows Googlers to teach classes (busi-
ness or personal) to other Googlers during work time.
It is very successful.
From the meeting with Adam Burnham, Senior VP of
West Coast Innovation Mission Yields Deep Intelligence
Many lessons learned, all can benefit
Local Digital Sales, for Journal Register Company/Digital
First Media, on some of their digital success stories:
JRC is now in the very top tier when it comes to percent
of total advertising coming from digital, surpassing
even the McClatchy Company’s impressive 22%. This
has happened in a short time (less than three years)
since John Paton declared that the company would
follow a “digital-first” strategy.
AdTaxi is producing $3 million/month for the company.
Products offered by AdTaxi include an in-house ad
exchange (this is a “trading desk” for unsold inventory
that accounts for 1/3 of all AdTaxi revenue), social,
mobile, search, video and more.
Social is paying off and they are having success building
and managing social media campaigns on Facebook and
Twitter. In Denver they are using a local vendor called
Growth Weaver and are selling packages in the $1,500
- $10,000 range. They conduct advertiser workshops
for social and often close up to $40,000 on site.
IM West attendees on the start of a week-long
tour of innovation!
Only the tip of the iceberg has been
scratched with this summary and what is
currently available on LMA’s website and
twitter. “what a magical week - the west
Coast Innovation Mission was inspiring
and educational. The takeaways are
many; we can’t wait to share the report
with the industry.
Nancy Lane, LMA President
A plethora of deep, useful, point by
point intelligence will be shared in the
forthcoming industry report based on
2012 Innovation Mission. Expected in
mid-June, contact LMA’s Tanya Henderson
at firstname.lastname@example.org for
details about obtaining your copy.
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